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Big guns score big at Royal Ascot; Hot Rod Charlie comes up short in U.S.

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
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Mind Control (inside) edges Hot Rod Charlie are shown at the finish of Saturday's Salvator Mile. Photo courtesy of Monmouth Park
Mind Control (inside) edges Hot Rod Charlie are shown at the finish of Saturday's Salvator Mile. Photo courtesy of Monmouth Park

June 20 (UPI) -- The five-day extravaganza that is Royal Ascot was a bonanza for the big guns -- Godolphin and Coolmore, trainers Aidan O'Brien and Charlie Appleby and jockeys William Buick and Ryan Moore.

A limited American presence got off to a slow start, but picked things up at the end as the Royal meeting dominated the week's horse racing action -- despite the absence of Her Majesty the Queen.

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France quickly picked up the baton as Nashwa, who ducked the Royal meeting after finishing third in the Oaks at Epsom, prevailed impressively Sunday in the Group 1 Prix de Diane Longines or French Oaks at Chantilly.

And in North America, Mind Control scored a gutsy victory in the Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park, denying Hot Rod Charlie in his return after an extended stay in Dubai early in the year.

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And there was lots more action from Belmont Park through Churchill Downs and all the way west to Santa Anita, which wound up its long spring-summer meeting with Sunday's program.

While they wind up, we're just getting started with:

Royal Ascot

Another Royal Ascot is in the books -- this one with the fans back in force on the course but, sadly, without Her Majesty the Queen. The 96-year-old monarch's participation in her Platinum Jubilee celebration has been hampered by mobility issues.

Godolphin had a memorable week, capped by a 1-2 finish with a pair of long shots in Saturday's Group 1 Platinum Jubilee Stakes. Naval Crown edged stablemate creative force by a neck at the end of 6 furlongs while the favorite, Australian invader Home Guard, faded late to finish 20th.

"I see no reason why we shouldn't be going to the July Cup now on what we've seen today," Godolphin trainer Appleby said. "We hadn't really planned beyond this. "We thought we'd just be following the Australians home, to be fair."

RELATED Derby winner Rich Strike returns as Belmont hosts weekend of top horse racing

That showing in the Platinum Jubilee reinforced Godolphin's lead in the ownership standings. The Dubai-based organization was tied with Ireland's Coolmore at five wins apiece over the five-day meeting, but had three seconds to Coolmore's one to hoist the trophy.

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The individual honors, however, belonged to Coolmore's finest -- trainer O'Brien, with five winners, one second and three thirds to Coolmore's Charlie Appleby's mark of 4-1-2. Ryan Moore had a right Royal affair with seven wins, four seconds and three thirds, leading William Buick's score of 5-2-2 and outsider Daniel Tudhope's 4-3-1.

Also Saturday, Broome landed another blow for the Coolmore forces, winning the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths over Shadwell's Mostahdaf, with the favorite, Godolphin's Hurricane Lane, third.

Godolphin took down the Group 3 Jersey Stakes for 3-year-olds at 7 furlongs as the favorite, Noble Truth, easily held off Coolmore's Find; and continued his memorable week, starting the session by booting home 40-1 long shot Holloway Bay first in the Chesham Stakes.

Friday's features were more formful. Frankie Dettori found some redemption for an otherwise dismal week as he got the favorite, Inspiral, home first in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, running her career mark to 5-for-5 while making her first start of the season.

Changingoftheguard made it 2-for-2 since his fifth-place showing in the Derby, narrowly edging Grand Alliance in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes for Coolmore, O'Brien and Moore.

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And Perfect Power, the joint favorite, won the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at 6 furlongs by 1 1/4 lengths from Flaming Rib.

For a while there, it looked like Wesley Ward's horses were bigger no-shows than Her Majesty. From his first four runners, only Love Reigns showed any signs of life, finishing fourth of 21 in the Group 1 Queen Mary on Wednesday.

Otherwise, top hope Golden Pal, compromised by a bad start, finished last of 16 in the opening-day Group 1 King's Stand, Seismic Spirit reported 23rd of 24 in the listed Windsor Castle Stakes on Day 2 and Ruthin was 26th of 27 on Friday in the Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes.

Despite all that, Ward and the Stonestreet connections headed home with their heads held high after Campanelle finished a dead-heat for third and fourth with another Aussie runner, Artorius, beaten just 3/4 length, in the aforementioned Group 1 Platinum Jubilee on Saturday against a world-class field.

Despite coming up short in her bid to win at a third straight Royal meeting, Campanelle acquitted herself admirably.

The American presence was limited. Graham Motion saddled Spenderella to finish second in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes on Friday and Christophe Clement sent out Bobby Flay's classy filly, Pizza Bianca, against some even classier rivals in the same race, finishing eighth of 12 and not disgraced.

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Ascot CEO Guy Henderson noted the foreign successes, also including Australian sprinter Nature Strip's victory in the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes on Day 1.

"We have welcomed horses and connections from eight countries in total and as well as Nature Strip's victory we saw Spendarella finish second in the Coronation Stakes and today Artorius and Campanelle dead-heat for third in the Platinum Jubilee Stakes," Henderson said. "Their success is a hugely important part of the meeting."

France

Trainers John and Thady Gosden elected to withhold Nashwa from Royal Ascot after the Frankel filly finished third in the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom, opting instead for the Group 1 Prix de Diane Longines Sunday at Chantilly.

The decision paid off as Nashwa, with Hollie Doyle handling the reins, scored a hard-won victory by a short neck over La Parisienne with the others well back at the finish.

Nashwa had to earn it. Always prominent, she was under pressure all the way and Doyle was an animated figure in the irons through the final 100 meters as La Parisenne was in hot pursuit.

"I felt very vulnerable at the two-pole, I'm not going to lie," Racing Post quoted the jockey as saying. "It was a muddling race and I expected some of the others to be a bit more excited pace-wise than they were.

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"I didn't want to be where I was but she was very relaxed and happy to be one off the rail with a bit of company beside. When the second horse came to my girth she really dug deep. It was great to see."

Nashwa has three wins from five starts, and John Gosden said she will get a rest before eventually targeting the Group 1 Prix de l'Opera on Arc day, Oct. 2. Gosden also reflected on the future with Doyle and his son and co-trainer, Thady, taking more prominent roles in top-level racing.

"It's the youth team that are obviously taking over here," he said. "It's quite obvious I'll be surplus to requirements quite soon and it'll be the youth with Hollie and Thady."

Meanwhile, back in the States:

Classic

Mind Control, stretching out to the limits of his ability, found just enough through the final strides of Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park to turn back the heavy favorite, Hot Rod Charlie, on the latter's comeback from a long, early-season trip to Dubai.

Mind Control, a 6-year-old son of Stay Thirsty, led most of the way in the 1-mile affair, was headed by Hot Rod Charlie, then fought back to win by a head. It was another 6 1/2 lengths to Shirls' Speight in third as Mind Control reported in 1:35.79 with John Velazquez up.

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Mind Control, trained by Todd Pletcher, has been more successful at 6 and 7 furlongs although his last two starts, at 7 furlongs in Grade I races, resulted in third- and fifth-place finishes.

Hot Rod Charlie, a multiple Grade I winner, finished first in last year's Haskell over the Monmouth track but was disqualified to last for stretch interference. He was making his first start since finishing second to Country Grammer in the $12 million Group 1 Dubai World Cup.

"I thought I would make the lead," Velazquez said. "Hot Rod Charlie doesn't have that much speed, and my horse is coming from a sprint. I knew if I hustled him, he would make the lead.

"We got a breather, and when I got to the half-mile pole I kind of opened up again and he gave me a good run down the lane. Hot Rod Charlie actually put his head in front late, but my horse was just too game."

Hot Rod Charlie's trainer, Doug O'Neill, said he was "obviously disappointed" in the result. "But we're grateful for the day and looking forward to the future."

Also Saturday at Monmouth, Home Brew rallied three-wide at the quarter pole in the $150,000 TVG.com Pegasus Stakes for 3-year-olds, hit the afterburners and jetted away to win by 6 1/4 lengths. Electability was second, a neck in front of Cyberviking. Home Brew, a Street Sense colt trained by Brad Cox, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.20 under Paco Lopez.

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Backing up a victory in the Oaklawn Stakes in his previous start, the win stamped Home Brew as one to watch in a wide-open 3-year-old division with the Grade I Haskell a potential next start. Cox won last year's Haskell with Mandaloun, thanks to Hot Rod Charlie's DQ.

Meanwhile, Mandaloun, who also was elevated to first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby by Medina Spirit's medication-related disqualification, has not raced since finishing ninth in the $20 million Saudi Cup on Feb. 26. He is in training at Churchill Downs with the Grade II Stephen Foster on July 2 on his dance card.

Also, a court hearing on the Derby DQ is set to start June 28, according to Bloodhorse News Editor Byron King.

Distaff

Private Mission stalked the pace in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita, seized the lead in the lane and held on to win by 3/4 length over Blue Stripe.

Varda was third as Private Mission, a 4-year-old Into Mischief filly, finished 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.46 for jockey Juan Hernandez. She had been on the sidelines since finishing second in the Grade III Las Flores in March.

"We passed a race up in New York to stay for this race, which ended up being the right decision, so it all worked out well today," winning trainer Sean McCarthy said.

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Private Mission was trained by Bob Baffert before his 90-day suspension in the wake of the Derby kerfuffle triggered a change in barns.

Society opened an early daylight advantage in Saturday's $160,000 Monomoy Girl Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs, was joined by Miss Yearwood turning for home and battled to the line with that rival before winning by 1/2 length. Tap Dancing Lady was third, 1 3/4 length farther back.

Society, the odds-on favorite, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.04. Tyler Gaffalione rode the Gun Runner filly for trainer Steve Asmussen. She remains undefeated after three starts.

"She was very impressive and we're really proud of her to run like that trying two turns for the first time," Asmussen assistant Scott Blasi said.

"She ran well here in her last start sprinting and showed today she could handle the added distance. We'll see what's next but we're very pleased with her effort today."

Sprint

Odds-on favorite Ny Traffic stalked the pace in Friday's $100,000 Chocolate Town Stakes at Penn National, surged four-wide to take the lead and fended off a stubborn Beren to win by 1 length.

Ny Traffic, a 5-year-old son of Cross Traffic, finished the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.64 with Edwin Gonzalez up.

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Filly & Mare Sprint

On Friday at Penn National, Fillie d'Espirit pressed the early pace in the $100,000 Susquehanna Valley Stakes, took over in the stretch and won by 2 1/4 lengths from Cinnabunny. The favorite, Kaylasaurus, got home third.

Fillie d'Espirit, a 6-year-old Great Notion mare, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.38 for jockey Xavier Perez.

Turf

Sacred Life found a cozy spot in Saturday's $160,000 Monmouth Stakes. The 7-year-old, French-bred Siyouni ridgling idled in mid-pack until called upon by jockey Manny Franco turning for home, got to the front inside the sixteenth pole and ran on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Safe Conduct.

Epic Bromance was third at a big price.

Sacred Life, trained by Chad Brown, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:47.70. It was his fourth win to go with six seconds since arriving in the United States nearly three years ago.

Breakpoint led throughout the 1 3/4-miles of Sunday's $125,000 Grade III San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita and held on to win by a head over the favorite, Red King. Avenue was third.

Breakpoint, a Chilean-bred gelding by Constitution, finished the marathon in 2:47.32 with Tyler Baze up. There was an objection and inquiry into bumping involving Red King and Avenue but the stewards let things stand.

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Breakpoint, who returned from a eight-months layoff, was undefeated in five starts in Chile but had gone winless in his first four U.S. tries for trainer Neil Drysdale.

Filly & Mare Turf

Neige Blanche showed the way in Sunday's $100,000 Possibly Perfect Stakes starting on the Santa Anita hillside course, maintained a steady advantage and finished first by 1 length as the odds-on favorite. Scarabea was second, a head in front of Freedom Lass.

Neige Blanche, a 5-year-old, French-bred mare, ran 1 1/4 miles on firm going in 2:01.35 with Juan Hernandez up for trainer Leonard Powell. She has four wins from her last five starts, all graded stakes.

Stolen Holiday stole away to an early lead in Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Eatontown Stakes at Monmouth Park and wasn't caught, winning by 1 length over Vigilante's Way. Lemista was third with the favorite, Fluffy Socks, fourth.

Stolen Holiday, a 5-year-old War Front mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:42.30. Jose Lezcano rode for trainer Shug McGaughey. It was Stolen Holiday's first stakes win.

Turf Mile

Masen chased down pacesetting Wolfie's Dynaghost early in the stretch run of Saturday's $250,000 Grade III Poker Stakes at Belmont Park and eased away late to win by 1 length over that one. Public Sector and Sanctuary City were two noses back in third and fourth and Penalty completed the order of finish. Masen, a 4-year-old, British-bred Kingman gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.16. Flavien Prat rode for trainer Chad Brown.

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Brown said he ran Masen back on a month's rest, "which is a little tight for him," as a bridge to the $500,000 Grade I Fourstardave Aug. 13 at Saratoga. "It worked out. He was a little headstrong off the slow first quarter but he did settle nicely after that."

Masen finished second in the Grade I Makers' Mark Mile in his U.S. debut after racing in Ireland in 2020 and 2021. He has two wins in a row.

Hong Kong Harry rallied from a stalking trip to win Sunday's $100,000 Grade III American Stakes at Santa Anita by 3/4 length over Homer Screen. Tarantino was third.

Hong Kong Harry, a 5-year-old Irish-bred gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.87 with Ramon Vazquez up for trainer Phil D'Amato. He is undefeated in three U.S. starts after starting his career in Ireland.

Turf Sprint

Belgrano, the first to close into a brisk early pace, outfinished Proven Strategies to win Sunday's $100,000 Select Stakes at Monmouth Park by a neck as the latter ran out of real estate for his late bid. It was another 1 1/4 lengths to High Limit Room in third.

Belgrano, an 8-year-old War Front gelding, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:02.12 with Jorge Vargas Jr. in the irons. Seemingly improving with age, the veteran finished second and third in a pair of graded stakes during the winter at Gulfstream Park.

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Poppy Flower rallied between rivals and won a stretch battle in Sunday's $100,000 Stormy Blues Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Laurel Park. Artos was second, 1 1/4 lengths back and a similar distance in front of the favorite, Derrynane, in third.

Poppy Flower, a Lea filly trained by Bill Mott, got 5 1/2 furlongs on firm going in 1:02.20 with Victor Carrasco up, notching just her second career win.

Juvenile / Juvenile Fillies

It was Fathers Day weekend but the girls prevailed in two juvenile stakes Saturday at Santa Anita.

Absolutely Zero dueled down the lane with Tahoma in the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Futurity at Santa Anita, swapping the lead before proving best by 1 length. First-timer Pure Fire came with a late run to finish third, just 1/2 length back of Tahoma.

Absolutely Zero, a Nyquist filly out of the Square Eddie mare How About Zero, ran 5 furlongs on a fast track in 59.09 seconds with Mario Gutierrez in the irons.

"She definitely is a fighter and showed big improvement," Gutierrez said. "She can only get better. The fact that she's running with the boys, you know that's what is impressive about her right now. She's a really cool girl so I'm happy with her."

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Stone Silent made her debut a winning one, dominating the final furlong of the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Debutante Stakes at Santa Anita.

The odds-on favorite, Tom's Regret, stumbled badly at the start and could recover only to finish second, 3 1/4 lengths in arrears. E Z Pharis was third.

Stone Silent, a Florida-bred filly by Adios Charlie out of the A.P. Jet mare Travelator, traveled 5 furlongs in 58.29 seconds with Ramon Vazquez up.

While she was having her first go, Tom's Regret entered the race undefeated after two starts, including the Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill Downs on Derby week.

"She'll go into the stakes program for 2-year-old fillies at Del Mar," said Stone Silent's trainer, John Sadler. "We have a couple of other ones coming along behind her, so it's good to have the first one out and get one under our belt."

Around the ovals:

Belmont Park

Dakota Gold, the odds-on favorite, got by the stubborn pacesetter, Surprise Boss, after a stretch duel to win Sunday's $150,000 Spectacular Bid Division of the New York Stallion Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds.

The margin of victory was 3/4 length, with Marinara Sauced well back in third.

Dakota Gold, a Freud colt out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Dakota Kid, ran 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:21.50 with Irad Ortiz Jr. back from Ascot to take the leg up. He's 3-for-4, with the only loss a fifth-place in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

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Dream Central was up just in time to post a big upset win in the $150,000 Cupecoy's Joy Division for state-bred 3-year-old fillies, edging Robyn and Eli by a neck. Royal Dancer was another 1/2 length back in third.

The first two home started the 7-furlongs trip last and next-last. Dream Central, a Central Banker filly sent off at 40-1 odds, finished in 1:21.57 with Jose Lezcano riding. She entered the race still a maiden after six starts, never better than third.

Hawthorne Race Course

Russian Mafia rallied from last of eight to win Saturday's $75,000 Romacaca Stakes for fillies and mares by 1 3/4 lengths over pacesetting Let's Cruise. The favorite, Bellagamba, was just a neck back of that one in third.

Russian Mafia, a 6-year-old Skipshot mare, was dispatched at odds of 27-1 and finished 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.62 with Julio Felix up.

Woodbine

Mason's Gamble, always prominent, found the best late effort to take Sunday's $100,000 (Canadian) Ontario Jockey Club Stakes for province-breds by 1/2 length over Candy Overload. The favorite, Secret Reserve, checked in third.

Mason's Gamble, a 4-year-old Gamble's Exchange colt out of the Dynaformer mare Dynaco, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.52 under Rafael Hernandez.

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Laurel Park

Nick Papagiorgio came five-wide to mount a winning rally in Sunday's $75,000 Find Stakes for Maryland-breds, scoring by 1/2 length over Somekindofmagician. B Determined and Audacious Quality were third and fourth.

Nick Papagiorgio, a 6-year-old Outflanker gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.33 with Horacio Karamanos up. The name refers, of course, to "National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation."

Why Not Tonight raced second, well back of the early leader, Can the Queen, in Sunday's $75,000 All Brandy Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares, caught that one after a back-and-forth stretch battle and won by 1/2 length. Coconut Cake was a neck farther back in third.

Why Not Tonight, a 4-year-old Tapiture filly, reported in 1:41.30 with Angel Cruz in the kip.

Gulfstream Park

Last Leaf surged between the dueling leaders heading for home in Saturday's $75,000 Game Face Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and scooted away to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Freedom Speaks and Rapturous also got past the early combatants to finish second and third. Last Leaf, a Not This Time filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.78 with Miguel Vasquez in the irons.

Charles Town

Silky Serena held on through the final sixteenth to win Saturday's $75,000 Fancy Buckles Stakes for West Virginia-bred fillies and mares by 3/4 length over the onrushing favorite, Alpine Moon. It was another 3/4 length to Lady Storm in third.

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Silky Serena, a 3-year-old Fiber Sonde filly, finished 4 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 52.49 with Reshawn Latchman riding.

Lone Star Park

Sunday's card had five $75,000 stakes for Texas-breds.

Algebra led under constant pressure in the Wayne Hanks Memorial at 6 1/2 furlongs, finally edging away to win by 1/2 length from Quarterback Dak. Algebra, a 5-year-old Algorithms gelding, finished in 1:17.55 with Lane Luzzi up.

Kenai Bob landed the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. The 6-year-old Shackleford gelding opened a clear margin in the stretch and won by a nose over Stans Hookin Bull, getting home in track-record time of 1:39.35 with Floyd Wethey Jr. riding.

No Mas Tequila reeled in pacesetting Discreet Smile at mid-stretch and went on to win the Lane's End Danny Shifflett Scholarship Stakes for fillies and mares by 2 3/4 lengths. The winner, a 5-year-old Northern Afleet mare, negotiated 7 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:26.25 with Leandro Goncalves up.

The 2-year-olds were represented, too. Bling Bling Bling, a Too Much Bling colt, took the colts and geldings division by 6 1/4 lengths as the odds-on favorite and Come to the Party, a Bradester filly held on to a good early lead to win the filly division by a head. Both are trained by Steve Asmussen for William and Corinne Heiligbrodt.

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Emerald Downs

Slack Tide set a pressured pace in Sunday's $50,000 Seattle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, and then kicked clear in the stretch to win by 4 lengths from Ropers N Wranglers. Unsolved Mystery was another 3/4 length back in third.

Slack Tide, a daughter of Shaman Ghost, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.39 with Evin Roman in the irons.

Executive Chef split rivals heading for home in Sunday's $50,000 Auburn Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings and ran on to win by 4 lengths. Itsallabouttheride was second, a head better than Midnight Mojo. Executive Chef, a Cairo Prince gelding, was clocked in 1:08.84 with Kevin Orozco up.

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